Note: This series of posts is excerpted from my “old school” blog (think diary, journal) during Hurricane Ike. I wanted to post “real time,” however, for various reasons that didn’t work out….
Here we go again. I guess it’s the price Houstonians pay for the pleasure of all those 90+ degree days in May, June, July, August and September? After spending 15 hours to travel 30 miles during my unsuccessful hurricane Rita evacuation attempt a few years back, I have decided to stay in Houston and ride this one out.
Ike is an incredible storm. Technically, it’s only a category 2 storm. However, it’s only one or two miles an hour below category 3 strength. More importantly, it’s HUGE -- over 300 miles in diameter. Since storms typically travel at around 15-20 mph, give or take, that means those directly in Ike’s path will experience tropical storm force winds or higher for 15 - 20 hours!
For the last two days, I’ve been tweaking my hurricane prep plan and checking my supplies. However, there’s not really much to do. I always have spare batteries and at least a four-day supply of bottled water and canned meats (tuna and sardines). I did buy some additional long lasting fruit, e.g. apples, and veggies -- especially tomatoes. (Yeah, I know they’re not official veggies.). I have partially filled both bathtubs with water for flushing and cleaning, and there is a pot of water on the stove for kitchen use. The hurricane prep plan is about to get a good test.
Ike will also be a good test for my apartment selection criteria. About a year after Rita, I had planned to buy a home here. However, strange things were happening in the housing market across the country so I decided to sit on the sidelines for a while. Instead, I moved to a larger apartment that, among other things a) was not on the first floor, b) was not on the top floor, and c) was protected from the wind. So, I know I don’t have to worry about floodwater or my roof blowing off. I face the pool, which is surrounded by apartments, so I’m protected from the wind on all sides. We’ll see how well this all works in practice soon.
7 p.m. The wind is picking up, but still no rain.
11:30 p.m. The television weather person says we have sustained winds of 30+ mph with gusts up to 50. However, I’m still comfortable going out on the balcony periodically to take a peek.
12:30 a.m. The electricity has been off and on a couple of times during the last 10 minutes. Now it’s gone for the duration. That also means no running water (I’m on the third floor), and no VoIP phone service.
1:45 a.m. I’m in bed following the path on the storm on my portable radio. Since obviously I have no a/c at this point, I have a window open to stay cool. The wind is howling outside, but inside there’s just a nice breeze. The radio says sustained winds are now up to 50 mph.
2:20 a.m. Gusts are now up to 83mph. So far, 1.3 million customers have lost power.
3:00 a.m. The eye of the storm made landfall in Galveston (60 miles away) about an hour or more ago. It’s getting pretty windy here, but not windy enough to get me out of the bed even though I’m only 5 feet from windows (not a good place to be during high winds). However, I don’t hear anything blowing around near the pool, so I stay put.
When I was a kid, my grandmother lived in a small country town outside of Houston. I can remember being there for one or two hurricanes. I remember she herded my brother and me into a hallway in the center of the house (no windows), covered us with a mattress, and tied us all together with rope. She had read about families being blown in separate directions by the winds. Wherever we went, we were all going together. My equivalent is my master bathroom. For the occasion, I have it stocked with flashlights, water, a cooler and some snacks. No rope. I also have some reading material and a small TV. I may skip the TV next time. If the weather is bad enough to force me into the panic room, the chances that I’ll still have power for the TV are not good. What I don’t have is a bed. Only blankets, comforters and pillows on the floor. I may want to invest in a small air mattress??
3:30 a.m. The wind is getting stronger. And I’m getting sleepier. I’m still comfortable in bed, but falling asleep near the windows does not sound like a good idea. Time for the panic room.
4:00 a.m. The radio guy says the eye of the storm is downtown now. All of a sudden, I have the munchies. Time for some potato chips, cheese and a beer. It’s my only beer, and I figure I might as well drink it before it gets warm. I’m really sleepy….
Related PostsSurviving Hurricane Ike: Saturday The next post in the series.
Surviving Hurricane Ike: Sunday The 3rd post in the series.
Surviving Hurricane Ike: Monday The final post in the series. This one has pictures.
FEMA Disaster Supplies Checklists Their list of emergency supplies is a lot longer than mine...
The picture is courtesy of Pal2Pal.